Enhancing the Responsible and Sustainable Expansion of the Science Shop Ecosystem in Europe

Interview with Jan Kleibrink from Handelsblatt Research Institute

Meet Jan Kleibrink, Head of Economic Analysis at Handelsblatt, talking about their involvement in the SciShops project.

Q: Firstly, tell us a bit about Handelsblatt Research Institute

Handelsblatt Media Group is one of the largest media companies in Germany. It is mostly well known for two publications: Handelsblatt and Wirtschaftswoche. Handelsblatt is one of the leading newspapers in Germany and the largest business daily. Wirtschaftswoche is a weekly business magazine.

I work for Handelsblatt Research Institute (HRI), an independent research institute that is part of Handelsblatt Media Group. For decades, we were an internal research department for the editors of Handelsblatt and Wirtschaftswoche. Then in 2013, we become an independent institute, offering our services around research, analysis and presentation of economic data to external customers. HRI has around 30 employees from different backgrounds, including many economists, historians, researchers and jurists.

 Q: What is your motivation for getting involved in the SciShops project?

Over the last few years, we have become increasingly involved in European research projects. These types of projects, such as those funded under Horizon 2020, offer a perfect opportunity to utilise our research expertise: One of HRI’s core competences is the collection and analysis of data from different fields as well as the analysis of markets. These steps form the backbone of European research projects. Every project starts with fundamental desk research to gain a comprehensive overview of the research area. Then, the development of a commercialisation and exploitation strategy is a central prerequisite for the long-term sustainability of projects. HRI can offer these services in nearly any research area.

We got involved in the SciShops project through SYNYO, the coordinator. We’ve previously worked with SYNYO on other projects and they asked us to coordinate the desk research activities in the project. We didn’t know much about science shops before getting involved but were interested in the concept and saw this as an opportunity to learn about new methods to organise and conduct research, challenge our own processes and find inspiration for future projects.

Q: What is Handelsblatt Research Institute’s role in the project?

HRI is responsible for managing the desk research in the project. We lead Work Package 2 (EXPLORE) that includes a literature study, case study analyses and a global survey. Together with four other partners, we have been developing the scientific background of the project.

I manage this work together with my colleague Sven Jung, Head of Economic Intelligence at Handelsblatt Research Institute. Several HRI researchers are involved in the individual project tasks too.

Q: What do you personally find most interesting/exciting about the project?

First, European projects always offer the possibility to work with partners from different countries and fields of expertise. The SciShops project includes 18 partners from 12 countries, making the experience particularly interesting. Furthermore, the partners come from extremely diverse backgrounds, offering different angles and opinions in project discussions.

Second, the topic is very interesting. Personally, I have not had any contact with science shops before and have learnt a lot so far in the project. I have been surprised by the size and variability of the science shop landscape.

Q: What do you hope to have achieved by the end of the project?

Firstly, I would see it as a great success to achieve everything we have planned to achieve in the project. The project goals are highly ambitious and the coordination of such a large, international consortium of partners from very different backgrounds is a challenging task. One year into the project, I can say that the enthusiasm and cooperation in the project is fantastic and we have achieved everything planned for the first project phase. Now, the interesting phase of setting up new science shops is about to start. In the long run, I really hope that we will be able to have considerable impact on the science shop landscape in Europe, both by offering information and advice to other science shops and by successfully establishing new science shops within the project.